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Win at all costs
Written by Bill Moushey Part 4 of 10

A question of whom to trust

November 29, 1998
By Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Ronald Trautman of Hays received a 161/2-year sentence for drug smuggling in 1995, based largely on the testimony of his cousin, John Regis "Re Re" King of Homestead.

King was an unusual witness. He admitted to several people that he’d murdered two men, though he was never charged, and had a far more violent criminal history than any of the dozen men he would testify against.

But prosecutors told the judge that King’s word could be trusted because he was honest about his failings, even though Trautman passed a lie detector test in which he swore that King lied about Trautman’s role in the drug ring.

Trautman said the biggest lie came when King testified that while Trautman was involved mostly in nickel-and-dime deals, he had helped to bring a shipment of 8 kilograms of cocaine to Pittsburgh. Trafficking in that amount of drugs doubled Trautman’s sentence.

King was sentenced to only five years because of his cooperation.

In the fall of 1997, Trautman, imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institute at Allenwood, got a strange series of handwritten letters. One asked him for a transcript of his trial, promising help. Another said an internal U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration document was a big lie. Another said the government knew Trautman had not been involved in the cocaine deal nor in a marijuana deal that was brought out at Trautman’s sentencing. Two other letters contained money orders to Trautman, each for $200.

A handwriting analyst told Trautman’s family that King had written the letters. The return address belonged to one of King’s relatives.

Trautman has gotten no more letters. He believes the information was King’s clumsy attempt to set the record straight, and Trautman has asked for an evidentiary hearing.

Trautman admits he has committed crimes that deserve imprisonment, but he figures that more than half of the time he is serving is King’s.

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